Beta Theta Pi Fraternity and Foundation support Piazza Center research

September 16, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Beta Theta Pi Fraternity and the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity Foundation have made a combined gift of $50,000 to support fraternity and sorority research through Penn State’s Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform. This contribution, which was matched by the University, underscores the organizations’ commitment to transforming the fraternity and sorority experience nationwide.

This contribution will help support the expansion of programming and educational initiatives to improve the collegiate experience by addressing fraternity and sorority life’s impact on leadership development and social issues, including substance misuse and hazing as well as creating a new standard for intervention and prevention in fraternities and sororities across the nation.  

“The Piazza Center is passionate about creating healthy, safe, successful and sustainable fraternities and sororities. The tragic death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza and, more recently, the deaths of Virginia Commonwealth University student Adam Oakes and Bowling Green State University student Stone Foltz focused renewed attention and effort toward repairing profound challenges in our nation’s fraternity and sorority communities. The Piazza Center is dedicated to Tim, his parents, and all families who have suffered loss as we strive to become a national resource. This gift is a notable and welcomed contribution to that important cause,” said Stevan Veldkamp, executive director of the Piazza Center.

The Beta Theta Pi Fraternity and Foundation have worked to honor Timothy J. Piazza, who died as a sophomore at Penn State in 2017 after a night of hazing at Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

This gift is an extension of that mission and their goal to support research to refocus the fraternity experience on core values and improve member safety, according to Jeff Rundle, executive director of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. He said Beta Theta Pi is making this investment in the Piazza Center, because more can be done to improve a profound, 245-year experience of fraternity and sorority life, that continues to enrich some 750,000 college students across North America every year.

The Piazza Center is a multidisciplinary research center dedicated to uplifting fraternity and sorority life whose aim is to create actionable data and scholarship for healthy, life-changing, and lifesaving fraternities and sororities, thereby reducing hazardous behaviors. The center’s studies are focused in four key areas: hazing and hazardous drinking prevention; leadership, community engagement and learning; mental and physical health; and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.  

Penn State hopes to generate an endowment of $8 million to support the center's research. Toward that end, the University has committed $2 million in initial funding and will match up to $3 million in additional endowment funds committed for this purpose. Through this opportunity, organizations, alumni, parents, and friends can leverage their gifts to secure matching funds that double the impact of their generosity. To learn more about supporting the center and the goal that students in fraternities and sororities have a safe and enriching college experience, visit the Piazza Center website

This gift will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu

Last Updated September 27, 2021